Clausura 2022 Wrap: Playoffs and ‘relegation’ stories

León and Toluca brought the curtain down on the Liga MX regular season with a helter-skelter match that ended 4-4. (Photo by Carlos Zepeda/Jam Media/Getty Images)
León and Toluca brought the curtain down on the Liga MX regular season with a helter-skelter match that ended 4-4. (Photo by Carlos Zepeda/Jam Media/Getty Images) /
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Liga MX CL22 finale
In the Liga MX season finale, Toluca and León combined for 8 goals, 35 shots and 14 shots on goal. Neither team was happy with the result. (Photo by Carlos Zepeda/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

Liga MX season ends with a real doozy

The Clausura 2022 regular-season finale was a thrilling 4-4 draw at the Camp Nou that helped neither León nor Toluca, frustrating fans for both teams. In fact, the fans most happy about the outcome were supporters of Mazatlán FC and Querétaro.

León needed a win against the worst defense in Liga MX to snatch the final wildcard spot from Mazatlán FC while Toluca desperately sought victory in order to avoid paying a 33 million-peso “Relegation” fine. Neither the Esmeraldas nor the Diablos succeeded … and their goalies suffered shell-shock.

The result left León with 21 points, the same as Mazatlán, but the Cañoneros claimed the No. 12 seed in the Liga MX playoffs as a result of a better goal differential (–4, compared to León’s –5).

The final in León meant “The Purple Gang” qualified for the Liga MX postseason for the first time in club history (a history that only goes back to June 2022 when the Monarcas Morelia franchise was purchased by Grupo Salinas and moved to the Sinaloa port city).

As for Toluca, the Diablos were penalized by the resurgence of Atlas, Necaxa and Atlético de San Luis, each of whom passed “Los Choriceros” in the “Relegation Standings” while also qualifying for the playoffs.

Querétaro was 2 points behind Toluca in 12th place in the “Relegation Standings” after the 2020-2021 seasons. The Diablos made the playoffs last season but this season’s 15th place finish in the Liga MX table saw them sink to 16th in the “Relegation Standings,” a single point behind Querétaro.

Avoiding the 33 million-peso penalty is a relief for the Querétaro ownership group since the team is up for sale, part of the fall-out from the horrific stadium violence at Estadio Corregidora on March 5. Liga MX HQ has ordered the club be sold before the end of the calendar year and the new ownership group might have been expected to pay part of the fine.

The 4-4 standoff leaves both León and Toluca in a shambles. As the Esmeraldas season crumbled, coach Ariel Holan resigned with two games remaining. Two draws saw “La Fiera” miss out on the playoffs for the first time in six seasons, a run that saw the Esmeraldas reach three Liga MX Finals and win the Guardianes 2020 title.

Toluca coach Ignacio Ambriz – the man who directed the León dynasty until departing for Spain in summer 2021 – could now be on a hot seat. Diablos ownership is typically pragmatic and patient, so they won’t likely react rashly. If Ambriz is given time to select his roster (he took the managerial job in December), he should be able to right the ship … but it could take time since a complete overhaul is needed, especially to rid the locker room of malcontents.